A current FAQ on How do I write a good title? seems ambiguous on whether titles that begin with "How do I <do something> ... ?" or "How to <do something> ... ?" are desirable on Stack Exchange sites generally, or whether a shorter title like "Doing <something> ... ?" is to be preferred.

By ambiguous I mean things like the most upvoted answer saying:

4. Don't start with "How do I..."

Writing in that style ensures that your title will fail criteria 1-3, and get less attention than it deserves.

This is a question site, and people will understand your titles are questions.

while the FAQ title starts with:

"How do I..."

Without going into all other possible title structures, and individual sites may already have clarified this in their own Metas, is there generally a case for preferring one of the above over the others while performing more comprehensive editing of a question?

A similar question (Preferred title format: gerund or "how to"?) was asked 5-6 years ago from what I suspect was a pure Stack Overflow perspective. It was made a duplicate of How do I write a good title? an hour and a bit later which, in retrospect, seems to have been hasty because unambiguous advice on this particular aspect is not offered in that FAQ.

  • 2
    Since "How do I" is discouraged, and "title" is a tag, that post should be retitled as "Write good".
    – user315433
    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:27
  • @FTP I almost agree - but I think "Writing good titles?" would be better in this instance.
    – PolyGeo
    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:29
  • I think FTP's comment is a tongue-in-cheek since it's deliberately referring to "don't put a tag in the title" (while it's not always the case) :p. Alternatively, the title can be changed to "Tips on writing good titles" without a question mark... or similar to that. Feb 22, 2018 at 8:55
  • @HTTP I got the double entendre but it made an opening for me to say what I would write as a title for that FAQ.
    – PolyGeo
    Feb 22, 2018 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


I think it looks cumbersome and repetitive to see the front page or any search for questions return a list of titles like:

  • How do I start a Python script?
  • How to update Blender?
  • How do I write a good question title?
  • How do I open an event?
  • How to innovate in Operations Research?

I find them quicker to read/scan when they are of the form:

  • Starting a Python script
  • Updating Blender
  • Writing a good question title
  • Opening an event
  • Innovating in Operations Research

I think that replacing "How do I …", etc by using "ing" (a gerund) instead is a typical way to construct titles in technical writing, and I see Stack Exchange sites as being a form of technical writing.

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